Friday, September 9, 2011

Elderberry Syrup

I have big plans to avoid illness this winter.
After my ear infection that almost killed me last winter I am feeling a bit more protective of myself.
One of my strategies is going to be taking elderberry syrup which prevents and shortens cold and flu. It is also from the magical elder tree where the fairy queen is said to preside and which has a long ancient history of great healing power.

We have been watching the flowers bloom and then the berries ripen on the patch down the street. They are very common in moist places and easiest to find when the flowers are in full bloom, bright and white they

reveal many elderberry bushes. I wrote down their locations this year so I could find them to harvest the berries later. You have to harvest at just the right time when the berries are dark purple and heavy but the birds haven't found them all and gobbled them up.

Georgia and I strolled down to the nearby trees and a cat bird scolded us from the opposite side of Bird brook where she was eating some of the ripe berries. We picked a bowl full.

and then made a syrup. I found a few recipes on the internet and this one sounded good.

I boiled the sweet smelling berries in water for hours, strained out the liquid once it had boiled away half then added ginger root, cinnamon and cloves. Once it was cooled I added the raw honey. It is very sweet. Too sweet for Rob and Lily, but Georgia loves it and I don't mind it. Everyone is enjoying it on oatmeal, though.

My Great Grandmother Hulda used to make elderberry jam every year. My mother told me that one year she was too sick to go out and harvest the berries so her brother, Axel, harvested them and put them in the freezer for her to make her jam when she was better. When she finally opened the freezer there were the berries still on their branches. He had cut the branches off and stuffed them all in the freezer.

After Georgia and I picked these it rained for a week or so and when we looked again (I was going to make a few more batches, maybe one with brandy that wouldn't be so sweet) the berries were totally gone, each one picked from their stalks.

If I run out I'll have to order some dried berries on-line from Mountain Rose Herbs

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